What Happens When You’re Asked for Proof of Onward Travel? (2021)


Sunset in Manila airport

“That’s great, thank you, Miss.” She smiled as she handed my passport back to me. “Now, can I just see your onward ticket?”

My heart sunk.

“Oh! Yes! My onward ticket… um… it’s actually, uh it’s, it’s actually on my laptop”, I lied, “and my, um, my laptop is out of battery. I, uh, I’m flying to Bangkok, though! In three weeks. I’ll be in The Philippines for three weeks.” I forced a nervous smile in the hope that she’d believe me.

“I’m sorry, Miss. You need to have an onward ticket to board this flight. We can’t let you on the plane unless you can show me proof of your onward travel plans.”

“But, my laptop? I can’t turn it on. What if I can’t find somewhere to charge it?” 

“I’m sorry, Miss. We won’t be able to let you on the plane. You need to find a way to charge your laptop.”

But–”

“You have 30 minutes,” she interrupted. “Good luck, Miss.”

Shit.

Sunset in Manila airport

With a lump in my throat, I jogged past 20 rows of check-in desks, eyes darting around the room, no idea what I was even looking for.

How could you be so stupid, Lauren? Why didn’t you buy a ticket? Oh my god, what am I going to do? What do I do? How do I get an onward ticket? What the hell am I going to do?

It was 2am and I was low on energy. An action-packed day spent meeting up with old college friends had rendered my introverted brain exhausted and unable to function. Though I’d been travelling continuously for the past four months, I still hadn’t learned that the airline desks in the departure hall of airports sold flight tickets – though I doubt there’d have been any open at this time. After four months of travel, I still didn’t have enough common sense or life experience to come up with a logical way of buying an onward ticket – not without a power socket and Wi-Fi.

I’ve visited almost a hundred countries on my travels so far – over half of which had stated you needed proof of onward travel as an entry requirement – and I’d never been asked for an onward ticket. I’d just assumed through experience that it was a rule that was rarely ever enforced – that as long as I kept quiet, was polite and looked innocent I’d never be asked. I assumed The Philippines would be the same as every other country I’d visited so far.

I quickly formulated a plan. I needed to charge my laptop, get online and buy a ticket to anywhere – it didn’t matter where – before the check-in desk closed. I needed to get on that flight.

I sprinted to the nearest help desk, panting out my question; my joy replaced by horror as I learned there wasn’t any free Wi-Fi in the airport.

WhatamIgonnado? WhatamIgonnado? Oh god, WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?

I had 20 minutes left.

I raced up and down the hall, feet squeaking, heart pounding, back aching from the weight of my backpack. I scanned behind and beneath every chair as I hunted down somewhere – anywhere — to charge my laptop.

I was on the verge of a breakdown when I discovered a power socket hidden away in a dusty, hair-ridden corner of the terminal. Giving myself a secret celebratory high five, I knelt to the ground and waited for my laptop to turn on.

15 minutes.

“Comeoncomeoncomeon!” I willed my laptop, cursing the twenty-odd programs I’d left running that now had to re-open before I could do anything.

I opened the list of Wi-Fi networks, nauseated when I saw every single one was password protected and the name of an airline. Where was a Starbucks or a McDonald’s when I needed one?

I had 9% battery life now, surely enough to last me the 12 minutes I had before check-in closed. I unplugged the charger, pulled on my damp-with-sweat backpack – the ice-cold air conditioning having done nothing to keep me cool – and started towards the far end of the departure hall.

I refreshed the list of networks every few seconds, desperate for a name to appear without a padlock next to it.

And there it was.

Yes! There it was! An unsecure network! There was one!

“Connect! Please! Please connect. Please connect. Please connect”, I whispered as I urged the connection icon to change to a checkmark.

“Yes!” I whispered to myself and wondered whether I should give myself a high five.

I was connected. I was online. I sat on the floor; backpack on, planning my route back to the check-in desks. I could make it. Maybe I could just about make the flight.

Eight minutes.

I loaded the Air Asia website. Manila to Bangkok, three weeks from now. By this point I’d be happy to pay $500 for the flights. Fortunately, they were only $50. Great. Confirm.

Four minutes.

As the loading icon spun around and around, I opened my email and willed the confirmation email to appear.

Aha! There it was!

I scrambled to my feet – not an easy task when wearing a backpack and a daypack – and took off in the direction of the check-in desk.

Please be open. Please.

“You’re lucky, Miss. We are closing in two minutes, you got here just in time”

I grimaced as I fought to catch my breath, handing her my laptop with the email confirmation on the screen.

“Manila to Bangkok, yes?”

“That’s the one.”

“This says you bought the ticket just two minutes ago?”

I froze. “Yeah. I, um, I couldn’t find my original ticket confirmation anywhere and had to buy a new one. I have no idea where the first one went…”

I felt her eyes on me as I stared at my feet. I didn’t know whether looking up would cause me to laugh, cry or vomit all over the desk.

“Here’s your ticket, Miss Lauren. Have a safe flight.”

I passed through security in a daze, too exhausted to decide how I was feeling. I met back up with the Israeli guys I’d been chatting to before my action-packed race around the airport.

“Whoa, Lauren! You’re here! We thought there was no chance you’d be getting on the plane tonight. Why didn’t you buy an onward ticket?! Didn’t you know you needed one for The Philippines?”

“Yeah, I did… I just kind of assumed I wouldn’t be asked for one. I didn’t know when I was going to leave The Philippines… and I was hoping to extend my visa while I’m there… I didn’t want to buy a flight I might not use.”

They laughed.

“At least I know now,” I continued. “I guess I’ll just buy the cheapest ticket out of a country from now on as proof or something.”

“Either that or don’t arrive at an airport with 30 minutes to spare!”

“Yeah.” I grinned. “That, too.”


Do You Always Need an Onward Ticket?

Nope! Definitely not. 

I travel full-time for a living and after ten years of continuous travel to 100-odd countries, I’ve only been asked for an onward ticket three times, in Hong Kong flying to the Philippines, from New Zealand flying to Thailand, and French Polynesia flying to Fiji. I have taken 400 flights over that time. 

So if you’ve read this post and you’re currently panicking, it’s okay. Odds are, you won’t be asked for a ticket at the airport. 

If you are, it’s also okay, because if you arrive at the airport with plenty of time, you can do as I did. If somebody at the check-in desk asks for your onward ticket, tell them it’s on your phone but your phone is out of battery. Tell them you’re going to go charge it up and will come back with a ticket. Buy a new ticket to the cheapest place available, then join the queue for a different check-in desk, with your onward ticket in hand. 

Alternatively, there are new companies that have been set up with nervous travellers in mind. Take OnwardTicket.com, which I’ve now started using regularly. You’ll pay just $12 to them and in exchange, they’ll send you a valid flight confirmation within 2 minutes that’s valid for 48 hours. Buy it the night before your flight, show the check-in staff your ticket when you check-in, and board the plane for no issues at all.

At a cost of $12, it’s definitely worth it for peace of mind. 

 

Have you ever been asked for an onward ticket?

 

182 Comments

  1. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    Hate hate hate this rule. Happens to me all the time even when I have a long term visa for the country I’m entering.

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, it’s incredibly frustrating, especially if you don’t like to travel with fixed plans.

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      Seriously. The onward ticket rule is one of the dumbest travel rules ever. Especially considering not everyone plans to fly out of their designated country. In this case, I get that you can’t travel out of the Philippines by bus but it’s not like this only happens in the Philippines, it happens in destinations across the globe. I mean, do they think that nobody uses buses to move from country to country when traveling in Southeast Asia, Central America, Africa, etc?

      • February 3, 2014
        Reply

        Yep, agreed. It’s ridiculous. Having an onward ticket doesn’t in any way prove that you’re going to leave the country at some point either. I always end up so nervous and have, aside from this time, never been asked for one. Which is good because I never have one!

    • Cassi
      November 28, 2018
      Reply

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who ignores the rules sometimes only to get caught out when I least expect it. It’s all part of the adventure. haha :)

      • January 8, 2019
        Reply

        As long as you’re at the airport early enough, you can always get yourself out of the situation by buying a new ticket, too!

    • james sharrett
      December 7, 2019
      Reply

      Yes I have Australian passport live in Philippines 8 years , only twice I haven’t been asked for return ticket , have a balik byon visa married , Perth airport required R/T , 5 times , asked why are you traveling to that Country Kota Kinabalu, ,have to make up story meeting friends , Bali same 3 times Singapore 3 time same . Bangkok same , I think Vancouver they didn’t ask for return ticket , not sure HK, or Veitnam ? But just to be sure always get one , called throwaway ticket , I did hear that some airlines request them , because especially Singapore , because if you happen to disappear when you get to your location , they can be up for letting you in. fined or penalty but I have 4 English friends here , who traveled to Singapore , Bali , HK, Thailand without return ticket , how do they do it .

  2. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    That was close! Glad you were able to connect and buy tickets online. Wifi in Philippine airports is a continuous guessing game till now

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Wi-Fi is horrible in so many airports around the world! It always surprises and frustrates me.

  3. Haha wow! I felt like I was watching an action thriller reading this! You had me thinking, “Oh my God, is she going to make it?!” Even though I’ve read your posts on the Philippines so I know you did!!

    I heard this rule over and over before I went to the Philippines and I was organised… but they didn’t ask me for an onward ticket. Felt a bit cheated actually :P

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, thank you — that’s a huge compliment! :-). I get that — I’d be angry if I bought an onward ticket for proof and didn’t need it in the end!

  4. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    Ok so now I’m panicking! I have a one-way ticket to Lima booked in April. Didn’t buy a return as don’t know when I’ll be coming home and planning to cross borders into Ecuador and Bolivia by land. Am I going to have a problem??? Travelled south east Asia for 6 months and never had to provide proof of onward travel then…
    Love your stories but this one’s really made me genuinely worried now! Lol ;-)

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Hey Kiara, I don’t think you need to panic… I haven’t travelled to Ecuador or Bolivia yet so I can’t speak from personal experience. I think, though, that you’re less likely to be asked if you’re travelling overland — it’s usually the airlines that ask for proof. Do some research and read some forums and see if other people have been asked. Maybe try and buy a bus ticket online?

  5. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    We were told the same for Thom, coming to Canada on a working holiday visa – that he NEEDED to have a return ticket back to NZ or else AirNZ wouldn’t let him on the plane. We took that as an opportunity to skip out on Canadian winter as soon as Christmas was over, which was okay. But honestly, no one has ever asked us for any sort of proof. Glad you got on!

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, that’s ridiculous for a working holiday visa — you’d have to book a ticket for, what? Like, two years time?!

  6. ryan
    January 25, 2014
    Reply

    lol. Reading this felt like watching an episode of the Amazing Race xD

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Ryan! It was pretty dramatic :-)

  7. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    OMG, I’ve heard similar stories from friends, and in Iceland were behind a couple who were going through the exact same thing you were. This was one good thing about our fixed term trip – we had RTW tickets so always had onward proof, and within Asia/Europe travelled by land so didn’t have to worry about that within the continents. Glad you got through, I was so tense waiting for the end!

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      That’s one of the benefits on RTW tickets — you never have to worry about not having proof of onward travel! :-)

  8. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who ignores the rules sometimes only to get caught out when I least expect it. It’s all part of the adventure. Thanks for sharing.

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      It was definitely an adventure! :-) The one good thing about this whole experience was that I’m no longer nervous about not having proof of onward travel — I know there’s a solution if I’m ever asked!

      I would have lost so much money if I’d have bought onward tickets for every country that requires them! I rarely ever stick to my plans.

  9. January 25, 2014
    Reply

    Ahaha it’s hard traveling in Asia because you never know if you’ll actually need an onward ticket, and I’m sure it sometimes depends on how much of a hardsass the person serving you feels like being. Good work for getting it sorted just in time!

    • January 25, 2014
      Reply

      Agree! I’m always so nervous entering Thailand because I’m often planning on spending three or so months there. Fortunately, this was the only time I’ve ever been asked for proof in 2.5 years of travel!

      • Marek
        February 4, 2016
        Reply

        Is it more difficult to enter Thailand on one-way ticket than other countries?

        • February 4, 2016
          Reply

          Nope! I’ve never been asked for proof of onward travel and always have a one-way ticket. Probably flown into Thailand 15 times now!

  10. wanderingturtle
    January 25, 2014
    Reply

    Oh my God, this happened to me too! From Manila to Cambodia… I actually have a booking but no paper to prove it. I only had my ipad with me so I had to go to a computer terminal and print out the confirmation. Nothing like time constraints to make your trip interesting.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Oh no! Couldn’t you just show them the confirmation on the iPad? They accepted my reservation when I showed them it on my laptop. If I’d have had to print it out as well I would have stood no chance at getting it done in time!

  11. Katie
    January 25, 2014
    Reply

    I was so nervous for you just reading this! So glad you made it.

  12. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    Gurrrrl, if you were my travel companion, I would not have been impressed haha! In fact I’d probably have died of a heart attack. I got asked for a return/onward ticket when I came to Taiwan, luckily I had the foresight to buy the cheapest ticket out of the country that I could in advance, just so that I had something to show them – I was asked for it when I collected my boarding passes for Malaysia Airlines at Heathrow. Immigration in Taiwan couldn’t have cared less, though.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Haha! Yeah, I think that 99% of the time it’s the airlines that ask you for an onward ticket, rather than immigration.

  13. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    I had this happen to me on my first Scoot flight Sydney to Singapore / I had to do the same with limited time to spare and by a ticket SIN to KUL. At the time I was intending to go over the border by bus and make my way to Kuala Lumpur overland with a stop on Tioman Island. I was NOT going to fly at all. So a dummy $45 dollar ticket for a random 10 days ahead and I was allowed to board.
    Yep, it seems to happen quite a lot. That was an enormously entertaining read.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      At least you managed to buy one in time! It’s such a stupid rule :-)

  14. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    Hate this rule! It is driving us crazy! We are trying the figure out what to do if we plan to travel out by land or boat. How do we prove onward travel? Any thoughts?

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      I’d imagine you could buy a bus ticket in advance and show them that but that does mean you’d have to know how long you wanted to spend in the country — and it would only work in certain places. I doubt you could buy bus tickets in advance in Laos, for example. I guess it’s a good thing that I haven’t been asked for an onward ticket since this incident, which happened over two years ago. I think it’s quite rare to be asked.

  15. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    Never has a blog post got my heart racing !

    • January 27, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, thank you! And sorry :-)

  16. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    How scary! I’ve been in a similar position before, trying to get my visa in Cambodia. How lucky you were able to do all that in only 30 minutes!

    • January 27, 2014
      Reply

      I was so shocked I managed to get everything sorted within 30 minutes — I was drenched in sweat afterwards!

  17. Sky
    January 26, 2014
    Reply

    The check-in agent wouldn’t cross-reference your PNR (confirmation number) with anything unless you are possibly traveling on the same carrier. Keep your confirmation email and drop it into a PDF editing software and change your dates and airports as needed. Print and show.

    • January 26, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, it’s just not something I feel comfortable doing. Given that this was the only time I’ve been asked for an onward ticket in almost three years of travel, it’s not something I worry about anymore anyway :-)

  18. January 26, 2014
    Reply

    I’ve found that using frequent flyer miles I can “buy” a ticket, print out the confirmation for inspection and then cancel within 24 hours for a complete refund. This worked for me twice but no guarantees and I imagine the rules are different with each airline.

    • January 27, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the tip, Laura! Buying a refundable ticket is definitely a good way to bypass the rule :-)

      • Matt
        August 14, 2015
        Reply

        I’m trying to buy something refundable now to show I’m leaving Bali, but all the carriers seem to charge at least USD30.00 admin fee even with fully refundable fares! Very frustrating.

        • November 22, 2015
          Reply

          $30 isn’t too bad for peace of mind.

  19. January 27, 2014
    Reply

    I too believe this is one of the dumbest rules. If I want to stay forever in a country, illegally, then I can easily purchase an onward ticket and just not use it. I have actually purchased a ticket on miles, and then cancelled the ticket and had the miles refunded, but that was back when I had status and was not charged the fees. It was a win win. Now, I rely on things like Air Asia and other nefarious means if needed….

    • January 27, 2014
      Reply

      I completely agree — it doesn’t make sense to me! Having an onward ticket doesn’t mean that I’m not going to stay in the country for longer! It’s ridiculous.

    • james sharrett
      December 7, 2019
      Reply

      do your research there is a reason , so airlines cant get into trouble

  20. January 27, 2014
    Reply

    We had the exact same thing happen to us. Running around trying to find Wifi! Stupid slow internet!

    We made a decision on the spot that we were going to Brazil after we were done in the USA. A decision we had been talking over for months was made in 5 minutes!

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, wow! Sometimes those decisions are some of the best ones, though! :-)

  21. January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Oh Philippine Islands…you are so uptight with your airport rules.

    We had heard that they were especially strict and probably the only place we’d need to show proof of onward travel, but we didn’t know when we’d be leaving, so we faked a ticket. With no way to print it, we risked it and left it on the iPad. I did a good job, but that didn’t stop me from FREAKING OUT when the woman at the ticket counter in Seoul asked for it and furiously typed information into her computer. I was sweating it…lcukily it worked, but it was then that I realized I am not a rule breaker. I was just grateful to be let on our flight and through immigration.

    Happy for you that a ticket didn’t cost a fortune, although I have no doubt you would have paid it. :)

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, that’s exactly why I haven’t done the fake ticket thing — I really can’t handle breaking rules and lying and would probably break down at the check-in desk the second they spoke to me! Glad the ticket worked for you, though! :-)

  22. Alexandra
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    haha this JUST happened toe me as well trying to fly into Colombia from Panama City! They’re boarding the plane as I’m on my phone frantically trying to buy a ticket. I didn’t even think they’d ask! So I had to book an overpriced ticket to Santiago because naturally the cheapest options weren’t working.

    Do you just get yours refunded or what do you do with the ticket?
    I still haven’t called the airlines to see if I can cancel mine.

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Ah, Alexandra, that can’t have been cheap?! I didn’t manage to get mine refunded — AirAsia has the most ridiculous refund policy where you have call up after so many weeks and jump through all these hoops and I couldn’t be bothered for $50. I hope you’ll be able to cancel yours!

  23. January 28, 2014
    Reply

    I felt panicky reading this! It seems that the Philippines is particularly strict on showing proof of onward travel; luckily my boyfriend had a print-out of our onward flights because he was asked for them just as we were about to board the plane to Manila too. When we were leaving the Philippines the date on my visa stamp was smudged and the border control man thought I’d overstayed my visa – I had to plead and show the (luckily un-smudged) stamp in my bf’s passport to convince him!

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Eeep! I get so nervous whenever they smudge the date on my visa — sometimes you can barely make out what it says! I’ve heard of lots of people needing to show onward travel for The Philippines.

  24. February 1, 2014
    Reply

    Ha ha, you poor thing. When I was about to check in for my recent flight from Gatewick to Lima the guy at the check in desk also asked me about my onward ticket. I said to him that I don’t have one as I will be heading out of Peru via bus, and anyway it wasn’t a legal requirement for Peru anyway (I made that up as I had no idea if it was or not). He wasn’t having any of it and so spoke to his manager, who happened to sit right next to him. Surprise surprise it wasn’t necessary. He didn’t even apologize to me. Grumpy so and so. So Lauren, you are not the only one who doesn’t check these things on time! :-)

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, nice! I’ll remember that for when I head to Peru this year :-)

  25. February 16, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    I’m glad you were able to go through and I’m sorry that the stupid rule for flying to the Philippines applied to you. I’m from the Philippines and a similar rule applies to me when I fly out. I need to show my return ticket coming home everytime I fly out. My husband and I went on a 3-week honeymoon around SEA, which included both air and land travel. The immigration officer asked for return ticket home after I only showed an onward ticket to Vietnam from Kuala Lumpur, our first jump off point.. I then showed her my Hong Kong-Manila return ticket. She gave me a puzzled and irritated look, then asked me, “Huh? How is that possible? You land in Kuala Lumpur, then Ho Chi Minh City and fly out of Hong Kong? What happens in between?” It was then that I had to explain to her our entire itinerary: Clark-Kuala Lumpur-Ho Chi Minh City-Siem Reap-Phnom Penh-Bangkok-Hong Kong, and how it was completely probable and possible to use land transportation to move from one country to another.” I suppose coming from a country surrounded my an ocean, she found it impossible to comprehend that international travel didn’t require air travel. For somebody who spends her entire day in the airport, it still confounds me how little she knows about international travel and how differently people move and travel around the world!

    • February 20, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, wow. Surely that can’t be the first time she’s seen somebody with an overland travel itinerary?!

  26. February 18, 2014
    Reply

    We’ve run into this several times, an onward ticket is required if sailing to Panama from Colombia and to enter Costa Rica and Nicaragua. We found out that if you book with Orbitz and cancel with 24 hours you don’t get charged anything. No penalty and nothing to your credit card. Have booked a number of flights and them canclled to ensure we had a ticket out, even though we would be travelling via land. Hope this helps!

    • February 20, 2014
      Reply

      Sweet, thanks for the tip, Jennifer! :-)

    • Juan
      October 31, 2014
      Reply

      Hi , can you tell me about Orbitz , so did you pay with u credit card and the company not take your money in the same time ? Because usually when buy a ticket then take My money in the same time.
      Expleme more pelare .
      Juan

      • October 31, 2014
        Reply

        I think Jennifer’s saying that you’ll receive a full refund, rather than having to pay a cancellation fee. They still take your money when you buy the tickets.

  27. Chris Schwarz
    February 23, 2014
    Reply

    Oh wow. Great post – a lot of people can related to this!

    I got caught out leaving Australia flying to Japan but luckily had a 3G connection on my phone, I literally tethered it to my laptop on the check in desk, bought any ticket I could find and emailed it straight to the girl.

    I had a similar instance to you when entering Vietnam from KL Airport, it was such a frantic rush as you described. I ended up finding a small sales ticket office for Malaysian airlines and bought their cheapest ticket at some date in the future. Once in Vietnam I found a Malaysian airlines office and cancelled my ticket and only lost $50.

    It’s crazy how non-uniform these rules are!

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Oh, phew! Glad you managed to get it sorted out in the end :-)

  28. February 23, 2014
    Reply

    Been there, had to buy that. Ours was in Fiji flying to New Zealand and then we didn’t learn our lesson and it happened to us again 6 weeks later in Sydney trying to fly to Malaysia. We’ve actually been asked for them in Iceland too. It’s super annoying and super pointless since there is NO WAY to know if we will ever even get on the damn flights. The funny thing is the customs agents at the country you are arriving to never ask, it’s only the airlines flying you there.

    • March 5, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, it’s definitely the airlines that always ask — it’s so frustrating! Interesting that you’ve been asked for them in Iceland as I’ll be heading there in a few weeks.

  29. Sam
    May 13, 2014
    Reply

    Does proof of onward travel have to be a plane ticket out of the country? Will the airlines (Qantas & American Airlines) accept a bus ticket? I tried calling American Airlines to ask – waste of time.

    • May 16, 2014
      Reply

      Hey Sam. I think you should be okay with a bus ticket.

  30. iAn of Freedom Wall
    May 20, 2014
    Reply

    It could have been disappointing. Good thing that the odds are not against you.

  31. elizabeth
    May 26, 2014
    Reply

    I actually had this experience coming from Hong Kong to Manila. I’ve never been asked for an onward ticket before. Actually when i arrive in Manila they don’t ask me anything and just waive me through. They were more strict about it in Hong Kong than they were in the Philippines. I had to buy a ticket at the counter at the last minute since they didn’t believe me when I said my return ticket was left in my apartment in Manila. They even started searching for my ticket, which i didn’t have, online and said they couldn’t find anything under the dates I gave. I ended up buying a return ticket to Hong Kong that made me grumble under my breath about never returning to Honk Kong. They don’t care when you buy the ticket as long as you have one. It was so annoying for my fiance as well. They didn’t bother me in America about a return ticket, just Hong Kong.

    • June 24, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Elizabeth! Strange how Hong Kong is so strict about flying to The Philippines, isn’t it?

  32. MIke
    June 13, 2014
    Reply

    Hi love all the comments

  33. Pop Tart Qyueer
    September 4, 2014
    Reply

    By the way, I traveled all over South America and was only asked for onward proof when I flew from Cali, Colombia to Quito, Ecuador

  34. November 30, 2014
    Reply

    Help I’m flying to Bangkok one way next week with Air India… am I going to need an onward flight ??? I have no plans yet haha

    • December 3, 2014
      Reply

      No, you don’t need one. If they ask for one, just buy it at the airport — it’s the airline that’ll ask, not Thailand.

  35. February 22, 2015
    Reply

    Same problem. In the past I used to book Clark to Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia for really cheap, then just throw the ticket away.

    Since that one has stopped I can either fake it by photoshopping an existing PDF or look for another cheap flight. I just don’t know if they have a way of checking the flight details on their computer, so will have to look for the cheapest flight out instead and throw it away.

    I just checked and cancelling a normal Cebu Pacific flight will cost half the price of the ticket so that is useless. Time to spend hours searching for the cheapest throw away flight. What a stupid rule.

    Even worse is when a Filipino wants to leave the country then need to show proof of funds and a return ticket. That is overstepping the mark and will cost me an arm and leg in cancellation fees.

    • March 11, 2015
      Reply

      Yeah. I do feel quite nervous about photoshopping a ticket in case they can look it up on their system. The other alternative is to book a ticket with a pricier airline that refunds the entire amount if you cancel, but it’s a pain to have to wait months to get your money back!

  36. March 26, 2015
    Reply

    Photoshop carries a small risk of being caught if they look up the reservation. As a frequent international one-way flyer, what I do now is visit a travel agent the day before I fly and get them to book me an onward reservation, without actually buying the seat. Travel agents can book and hold a seat a few days without buying. So you get a printed confirmed real reservation on a real flight in a travel agent envelope and all it costs is whatever the travel agent charges for the printout – a few bucks, usually
    .

    • March 28, 2015
      Reply

      Awesome, thanks for sharing that, that’s a great idea! :-)

  37. Anisia Corona
    May 5, 2015
    Reply

    I just re-lived the same exact thing that happened to me. And it was the first time I had not bought a ticket ahead of time, too! I made my flight thanks to free wifi and fully charged iPad, but just in time.

    • Anisia Corona
      May 5, 2015
      Reply

      I found this blog while searching the internet to find out if this was specific to China Airways or if Air Asia does it too. Does anyone know if it’s a Philippine’s rule? The airline offered me an onwards flight to purchase there at the counter, but it was over $500USD and they said it would take a month to return the money to me. What a joke!

      • June 30, 2015
        Reply

        I’ve only heard of it happening to people who are flying to the Philippines!

    • May 6, 2015
      Reply

      Eeeeek! Glad you made it in time.

  38. Christian
    May 8, 2015
    Reply

    Great story! I’m glad everything worked out. I don’t want to buy the onward ticket in advance.

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Yeah, if you get to the airport early, you can always just buy an onward ticket at the airport :-)

  39. Kat
    June 8, 2015
    Reply

    Thanks for posting this! Your article has been really helpful for me and my boyfriend. My boyfriend’s visiting me from the UK and didn’t have any plans on when to return back to the UK so he just bought a one-way ticket, not knowing of that onward travel rule. Fortunately I stumbled on this site because I was looking for traveling tips and I had to call him immediately to book the cheapest Air Asia flight to Kota Kinabalu at the end of the month, just to show to the people at the check-in counter and get his way to Manila. He’s on his way now! You’re a massive help and I thank you for that. x

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Kat! Hope it all goes well :-)

  40. Mike
    June 26, 2015
    Reply

    Wow! Amazing story…! After reading this I will buy an onward ticket…I’m planning to go from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur. They told me I must exit Malaysia within 90 days (I’ve bought a roundtrip of 4 months).

    So I guess buying a one way ticket from KUL to BKK is all I need to play it safe…Let’s say after 1 or 2 months?

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Mike! I’ve never been asked to show proof of onward travel when flying into KL and I’ve done it probably a dozen times by now.

    • June 30, 2015
      Reply

      But if you want to play it on the safe side, then yep! That’s the best idea. See if you can get a fully refundable one so you won’t have to lose out when you cancel :-)

  41. Andrew
    September 8, 2015
    Reply

    Most idiotic travel rule ever.
    It’s actually the airline staff that asks for it. The Immigration people couldn’t care less, although it’s actually written in the rules. Only airline people take advantage of such rule probably for monetary gain. Like you’ll be forced to book with them an onward ticket or to rebook your flight or forfeit your ticket. The airlines stand to gain from this stupidity.

    • November 13, 2015
      Reply

      Yeah. If you can check in okay, I don’t think you’ll ever be asked for proof when you land by immigration. I never have!

  42. ALEXA
    September 18, 2015
    Reply

    Lauren, I’m going to USA in 2016 to visit my girlfriend. I’ll fly from Singapore to Japan, and finally to Chicago. We will travel around states and I don’t have exact date to fly back to Singapore, so I’m planing to buy a one-way ticket. So, is it a good idea to buy the cheapest Air Asia ticket to Malaysia from Singapore as my onward ticket?

    • September 18, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Alexa! I’m a bit confused about what you’re asking. Who are you going to show the Singapore to Malaysia flight to? When you enter the US? When you enter the US, they will want to see a flight showing you’re going to be leaving the US.

    • Bote
      December 20, 2015
      Reply

      The US is completely different! They (immigration) will ask you to provide a return ticket leaving from one of the US airports. I’ve travelled a number of times both by bus and airplane from Toronto; and whenever my return ticket isn’t printed on my departure ticket (bought on separate days), they always ask for proof.

      • December 20, 2015
        Reply

        Weird! I’ve flown into Los Angeles and Houston in the past couple of years without an onward ticket and have never been asked. I also took the train from Montreal to NYC and was never asked, and drove from Vancouver to Seattle and was never asked.

  43. nitu
    October 18, 2015
    Reply

    Hi lauren.I’m planning to go to kuala Lumpur from india on one way ticket and after staying there I have onwards ticket to Bangkok. So my question is ..will immigration of malaysia be asking for anything at kuala Lumpur airport like my return ticket from Bangkok india…etc…??? … Thanks

    • October 22, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Nitu,

      I’ve never been asked for an onward ticket when arriving in KL. If you’re going to be asked for an onward ticket it’ll be by the airline when you leave India.

  44. December 18, 2015
    Reply

    when i went to the philippines ,i was boeadind my flight at lax airport and yea they asked me
    for return/onward ticket but i was prepared and had one of those so called trow away tickets booked from clark to malasia (not available any more) anyway i had this im hand showed to the lady andnshe said have a nive trip , since this is not available any more at a cheap price , if you are thaveling to the philippines you van find a cheap one manila to hongkong.

  45. Leonie
    January 5, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren!

    I am going to be flying in to the states from the UK, to LAX or JFK at the end of January. I aim to do a bunch of spontaneous travelling in the states for roughly a month and do not have an onward ticket yet as I do not know which state I shall be in by the end of the month! I usually book flights last minute, do I really need to have an onward flight booked? I would rather not be tied down to having to leave from a certain state before I have actually decided exactly when and where I want to leave (definitely a month, give or take a few days.).

    :)

    • January 6, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Leonie! I’ve flown into the US five times over the past four years and have never once been asked for proof of onward travel. If they do ask for it, you can always hop on the Wi-Fi at the airport and buy a ticket out then.

  46. Jacob
    February 22, 2016
    Reply

    Sounds terrifying and exhilarating!

    For future reference, many airlines let you cancel a ticket within 24 hours (or by midnight he following day).

    Do, you could book a flight then cancel it, but keep the email to prove your onward travel.

    • February 24, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks! If I’d had more time (and battery!) I’d have likely researched airlines that would have refunded the ticket, but instead headed straight to the cheapest airline I could think of! :-)

  47. Roxx
    February 28, 2016
    Reply

    I never had a problem flying one way to Thailand from USA.

  48. Hancel DeTorres
    March 2, 2016
    Reply

    Ha! Wow I got so nervous reading this post. I am from the Philippines and didnt know that they required an onward ticket lol shame – im trying to fly to Thailand and I was wondering if they would require one. Ugggh

    • March 15, 2016
      Reply

      They don’t! :-)

    • james sharrett
      December 7, 2019
      Reply

      dont take the risk for a few dollars .

  49. Mary
    May 30, 2016
    Reply

    Do you know if there’s a penalty for missing your flight out of Japan? I was not allowed into Japan without an exit ticket – had no idea how long I would be here or where I was going to next. Tried to cancel my flight but couldn’t and it was ridiculously expensive to reschedule a flight.
    Thanks!

    • May 31, 2016
      Reply

      Hi Mary, I’ve never been to Japan, so I have no idea. Honestly, though, I never heard of anyone being given a penalty for that. I doubt anyone even made note of your flight details, and as long as you leave the country before your visa is up, nobody will care when you’re doing it.

  50. Costa Rica Onward Ticket
    June 27, 2016
    Reply

    Hey thanks for sharing your experience. Well i think onward ticket is a necessity. This is a rule that country may have developed to stop fake entries. I have found that experiences of the people here are very wierd. Well I would recommend to browse the internet before traveling into any country must read its must haves and donts.

    • June 30, 2016
      Reply

      And that wouldn’t be at all because you run a website selling onward tickets to people visiting Costa Rica? I’ve travelled full-time for five years, have been on probably something like 200 flights, and I’ve been asked for an onward ticket exactly once.

  51. Allan
    July 8, 2016
    Reply

    There is a system which airlines check immigration rules and for the philippines in such system it is written that you need an onward ticket with a few exceptions. Try searching timatic web on google. I believe this is the one used by checkin agents. Also by experience when travelling to india from hkg on a 1 year business visa i have been asked the Same and also recently when flying from india to manila.

    • July 9, 2016
      Reply

      Yeah, the Philippines is definitely one of the few countries who definitely ask!

    • July 15, 2016
      Reply

      Yeah, it seems to be a definite rule that you’ll be asked if you’re flying to the Philippines.

  52. jarrod
    July 14, 2016
    Reply

    bullshit rule the people who initiated this crap should be crucified

    • July 14, 2016
      Reply

      Please, tell us how you really feel.

  53. Brittany
    July 28, 2016
    Reply

    Hello, Lauren!
    I was wondering if you could answer a question for me with all of your travel experience?

    I’m going to Australia from the States on a one-way ticket, as I don’t know if I’ll be staying with my friend there for the allotted three months my Visa allows, I didn’t set up a return date, and honestly didn’t plan to until I was there. Is there any chance my airline (Qantas) may not let me board without one? And are they who I should be worried about, or is it immigration once I arrive?

    This is my first international vacation and I’m so nervous about being turned away at the boarder or some other horrorific event!

    • July 29, 2016
      Reply

      If you’ll be asked, it’ll be by your airline. I’ve never been asked when flying into Australia. It’s no big deal, though, if you need one, you can just buy one at the airport — get a cheap flight to Bali or New Zealand to show them.

      • janes sharrett
        December 7, 2019
        Reply

        Lauren If you holiday in Singapore from Philippine, you need a return ticket to somewhere , this year , Indonesia Bali , Thailand , and Australia all require
        one , dont get caught out for sake of few dollars

  54. August 2, 2016
    Reply

    I was not so lucky haha. I’m at the airport now… brazilian citizens don’t need apply for the thai visa in advance so I didn’t even care to book an onward ticket.

    I went to the check-in and they said – when are you going to leave Thailand? Do you have a return flight? I was like “nops”, and she looked and me and said you need one and then I was like “hell nahh”.

    Took my phone went straight to the AirAsia to book a flight to Cambodia the price was just USD 44. Nothing!

    Buuuuuut! My credit card took like 3 hours to allow the payment. What happened? I lost the flight to Thailand, had to pay a fee of USD 200 for “no-boarding” so I can board on the next saturday and I’ll have to wait for 5 days in São Paulo once there’re only two flights per week.

    I wanna kill myself!

  55. Chris
    August 11, 2016
    Reply

    The rule is there because of shitty tourists/backpackers with one-way tickets :) The old-school hippy types used to fly into cheap places and just scrounge by, overstaying their visas and expecting it to be okay.

    They didn’t have any money to fly back out, so the governments had to fund their flights out.

    So they made the airlines liable.

    If an airline flies you in without proof of onward travel, they are held liable for the cost of deportation in that case. That’s why the airlines check. That said, normally having a higher-end credit card (or just not looking like a backpacker) will get you past it. Otherwise, fake ticket, fully refundable fare (full fare economy or business is usually fully refundable), or super cheap throwaway flight if you’re in asia or europe with the super discount airlines.

    Great writing, I could feel the panic!

  56. August 11, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    We just got back from Hong Kong, never heard of a forward ticket, the guy at the desk kept asking me for my return, no sir not that one the other one, confusing, you bet, added problem, no money or credit cards, got my friend in Australia through Vibar, he bought me an Air Asia ticket, they must do great business, we just made it when it was announced that there would be a short delay (about 3 hours) oh, and we dont know the gate number, think your stress was worse but only just

  57. senseless policy
    August 21, 2016
    Reply

    If the person at the Air Asia counter of departure didn’t do their job and let you board without checking your onward ticket, does anyone know if you LEGALLY have the right to buy your ticket once you land in the philippines, AFTER being denied by immigration?

    • August 21, 2016
      Reply

      It would most likely depend on the mood of the immigration official. You need a onward ticket to enter, when you’ve landed at the airport, you’ve technically not entered the country yet, so I’d assume you could. Either way, I have literally never heard of immigration asking for an onward ticket and I’ve been meeting travellers for five years and counting!

      • senseless policy
        August 21, 2016
        Reply

        Well, I guess I’m the first one then cause it happened to me yesterday when I landed in Cebu from Kuala Lumpur. I went to the immigration office to apply for the 59 day visa and the immigration officer asked me for an onward ticket that I didn’t have.

        They then locked me up in an “expulsion room” (where I’m writing from right now) for 3 full days until the next flight back to Kuala Lumpur.

        I tried to explain that I hadn’t bought any onward ticket because I was planning to leave the country on my friend’s yacht, even showing them the crew list with my name on it, but to no avail.
        I then bought an onward ticket online but they didn’t even deign to look at the bone of contention, determined to apply their senseless rules and deport me.

        I guess the officers now enforce these laws since president Duterte is in power and ruling the country with an iron fist. Another passenger before me also had to open his laptop to show his onward ticket at the immigration booth.

        The icing on the cake is that they’re asking me to pay 1000 pesos per night to stay in this room. I guess it pays for the guards who are with me 24/7 and who patiently wait for me at the door of the toilets when I take a dump.

  58. Jameel Hammad
    November 7, 2016
    Reply

    hi Lauren thank you ever so much for your blog,I am going to philippines for 4mths and wanted to book a 4mths return trip with emirates there told me I am only allowed 30 days without a visa so I must return within 30 days,there told me I could book a return with them within 30 and once I got to the philippines change the return date for 4mths ahead at the cost ,of £100 plus the difference of the fare for the return which would work out £300+ more than If I Just booked 4mths tickets after reading your blog I looked at manila to Hong Kong was £33 and that flight I planned to get 3weeks after I got Into philippines,(a dummy flight) I phoned the travel company and there said yes you can now fly with no problems and my return ticket Is 4mts ahead with them,ohh Lauren thank you ever so much I could give you a big hug you helped to solve my problems and save me a fortune,I been to philippines last year and extended my visa 2mths a time for 8mths,and last year I booked my flight for 3 weeks return even though I planned to stay at least 4mths tc Lauren

  59. Jim
    December 4, 2016
    Reply

    Laura,

    Just wanted to clarify on the Costa Rica rule. Yes, that guy runs a ticket buying site Costa Rica Onward Ticket, but at the same time, especially by land and in San Jose, they have ALWAYS asked me for proof of onward travel. Liberia Airport seems to be more lax in this regard. Back in the day, on the border with Panama on the Caribbean side (Sixaola), they had a corruption scam where fake stamps were being processed so ex-pats did not have to leave the country after 90 days. They busted the corrupt immigration agents, so there is some truth to it. I have a Nicoexpreso ticket, good for a year, and that does the trick. Even Penas Blancas asks for this now coming into the country from Nicaragua (not sure about San Carlos NI, never crossed there). On my most recent trip there, a group of travelers were shocked by this requirement. I tried to help them and told them just pay the $$ when the agent demanded it, but they insisted they had it under control and had something on their phone. Well, they totally lied. We get to the 2nd checkpoint on the public bus in Panamerica Hwy, and one of the dudes did not get the stamp (not realizing they had the checkpoints inside the country to check stamps) and off the bus the group went. Probably to catch a ride back to the border LOL. So yes this does happen with more frequency. Nicaragua never asks, but until I finalize my residency (I am married to a Nicaraguan) I still have to do the onward travel. Airline rule with Copa. I just wonder if I buy a ticket to Guatemala or El Salvador if that will be ok as it is part of the C-4. I digress, just wanted to give you a heads up on my experiences with the Ticos.

  60. Mae
    December 25, 2016
    Reply

    Hi there!

    Do you know if I need to prove I’m leaving the country or that I’m returning to my original country? For example, if I fly to Singapore from South Korea, then take a bus to Kuala Lumpur and fly out from there will that be a problem when I need to show proof?

    • December 30, 2016
      Reply

      No, you’ll be fine. Singapore never asks for proof of onward travel anyway.

  61. Nicole
    February 5, 2017
    Reply

    When do they ask for the return ticket? At the check-in counter or right before you board?

    • February 11, 2017
      Reply

      At the check-in counter.

  62. kevin mexxican
    February 12, 2017
    Reply

    this is just plane corruption why do cebu pacific sell me a return ticket knowing full well i cannot return without onward ticket so now they are fully aware i will not use that ticket and can sell that seat again doubling there profit pure greed and corruption so obvious i have lived in phils 3 years why i want to get home then fly back to hong kong one way then be stuck there agian im not going round in circles the rest of my life lol

    • February 12, 2017
      Reply

      You could always book a one-way ticket to the Philippines and then a fully-refundable ticket out of the Philippines. Once you’re arrived, you can cancel your onward ticket and receive a refund.

  63. Aziz
    February 17, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Great post! I am traveling to Brazil from Riyadh through Moroccan airlines. I have booked a one-way ticket as I have no plan when to go back exactly as I might explore South America. Do you know if Brazil enforces this dumb rule?

    I have been to Philippines; they asked me for an onward ticket and Thank God I had one

    • February 19, 2017
      Reply

      I’m not sure about Brazil and wasn’t able to get a consistent answer from Googling. If your worried, your best bet would be to see if you can find an airline that offers a refundable flight out of Brazil and book that, then cancel it once you’ve arrived.

      • Aziz
        February 25, 2017
        Reply

        Hi Lauren,
        I arrived to Brazil; immigration in Brazil will not ask you for a return ticket. Usually the airline asks for this.

        As for the airlines, I did not go to the check-in desk as I got my boarding passes on-line.

        Booking a refundable ticket is costly and some airlines will let you wait for 8 weeks for a refund.

        In case you could not check on-line, then just go early and if they ask for it then just book it at the airport.

        I am in Rio now enjoying the carnival; and it is great to be flexible to get the next ticket.

        Safe travels,

        Aziz

        Anyhow,

        • February 25, 2017
          Reply

          Thanks so much for sharing, Aziz! :-) Glad to hear it all went well for you.

  64. Shabby
    February 20, 2017
    Reply

    Lol reading your blog is like reading a thriller! Something that only happens in the movies.. I’m amazed by how you overcome all these situations! Well done!

    • February 20, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you! That means a lot :-)

  65. Kayplus
    February 25, 2017
    Reply

    Actually, I’m going to Philippines from Nigeria to study but of course I’ll still be asked for an onward ticket.. Can I get a ticket to Bangkok or Kota Kinabalu even tho I don’t have a visa to stay in those places?…. In other words, I’m asking you if booking a flight to Bangkok was possible for you because maybe you don’t need a visa to enter Thailand and I’ll need a visa to enter Thailand so it’s possible for me to still be able to book the ticket without visa?

    • February 25, 2017
      Reply

      Yep, you’ll be fine. The airline doesn’t care whether you’ll be able to get into Bangkok, because it’s not their problem. You’ll only ever be asked for proof of onward travel by the airline when you check in, and they do that because they don’t want you to not be able to get in and them to have to pay to return you back to your starting point. So I’d book a flight to Bangkok.

  66. Ivana
    February 28, 2017
    Reply

    Wow, a lot of suspense! Great story, I’m glad it all worked out for you in the end :)

    I’m from Argentina and my boyfriend’s from Australia, we’ll be meeting in Japan in exactly 19 days, we both booked our flights (he is in Singapore working at the moment, while I’m in Arg), we haven’t seen each other in almost two months and we’re super excited!
    Our plan is to stay in Japan for a month, then flying to Kuala Lumpur and staying there for about two months, then going to Australia where I can legally stay for six months with my visa. That’s why we only booked one way flights to Japan… but I wanted to be thorough so I called the airline, and they said I have to have a return ticket to be able to fly out Buenos Aires. And that was extremely confusing! I thought to my self, okay, I can book my flight to Malaysia before I fly to Japan and have proof that I’ll be leaving the country after a month… but a return ticket to Argentina?! I mean, I’m planning a trip of months, maybe even a year, at least three different countries and two continents, of course I don’t have a return ticket yet!
    So I spent the whole day calling the airline and the airport and looking up on the internet (that’s how I found your blog) and the people at the airport from Qatar Airways clarified that what I need is an onward ticket, proof that I’ll be leaving Japan, not necessarily a return ticket to Argentina. I was so nervous and stressed! But I shouldn’t have any problems since my boyfriend is gonna book our flights to Malaysia before the date of travel, which we actually need and are going to use!

    It is the airline that requires this. I know, it’s such a stupid rule… Will I need to book flights out of Malaysia, and Australia, and so on? For example, I’m allowed to stay in Australia for six months, but I don’t know exactly which day I’ll be heading back to my country, we may even go to New Zealand too! So it would be pointless to have a return ticket booked with so much anticipation. I guess it depends on the airline and the country you’re going to. If you fly to Japan, apparently, you do need and onward ticket (and according to this post and most of the comments, also the Philippines). One has to be very careful.

    Another thing, I’ve read some of the comments where people say you can just book a flight and cancel the booking afterward and get a refund, that may work for some airlines, but the lady I spoke to from Qatar Airways told me that my onward ticket (from Japan to Malaysia) has to be not just booked but issued and paid, with a flight number and all.

  67. Brit
    March 1, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! Reading your post is a big help but I’m still really confused! Maybe everything is just totally flying right over my head but I had a couple of questions. I plan on flying to Japan to move there with my fiancé who is in the Air Force (we plan to get married there) and I’m very nervous! I was just about to book a place to stay at when I thought I should do some more research and I had no idea about needing an “onward” ticket to get into the country! I’d never even heard of an “onward” ticket! So I was wondering if I buy a ticket from Japan to JFK, will that be sufficient as an onward ticket? I really don’t want to get deported. And also, would it be better to buy a refundable ticket in advance or just to buy one at the airport? I don’t have a lot of experience flying and this is my first international flight. Please reply! Thank you!

  68. Preeti
    April 27, 2017
    Reply

    Reading that was like reading a thriller! Glad you made it in time.

    • April 29, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you for the compliment, Preeti! :-)

  69. June 2, 2017
    Reply

    Haha, thats a great story. And a very, very close call ;-)

    • June 3, 2017
      Reply

      It still makes me nervous to think about it! :-)

  70. SHI
    August 4, 2017
    Reply

    Thank you for this one, Lauren. Some fine excuses, I mean, pointers you shared in this anecdote.

    I might try that one- “my ticket is on my laptop and my laptop is dead”. Always helps to arrive at the airport early so you can push your luck with a one way ticket.

    Also, liked that one about – “Ahem…I just bought that ticket right now because I couldn’t locate the original one on my laptop. Will have to get in touch with the previous airline’s customer care. But, I hope this should be good for now.”

    You know what, I was doing a lot of research on these scenarios for the last two days. I was tense, and worried. But, after listening to your stories, not any more.

    • August 7, 2017
      Reply

      Good luck! Unless you’re heading specifically to the Philippines, you’ll be unlikely to ever be asked for proof of onward travel. And if you fear you might, just make sure you get to the airport with plenty of time to spare.

  71. ANJANA
    August 26, 2017
    Reply

    uff after reading this article I just felt like it’s something like mission impossible…!!! Be being a traveller I think you managed well.

  72. Zach
    August 26, 2017
    Reply

    For “proof” of leaving via a land border I once used a hotel reservation. The airline didn’t ask how I was going to get there or anything after that, I don’t know if that was luck or what. Saddest part is if I did this merely for proof, I could have canceled for free when I landed too.

  73. Amalia Roxana
    October 9, 2017
    Reply

    Hello Lauren,
    I am Amalia from Romania, Europe. I’’ll be flying from Hungary to Miami, USA. After spending a few days there, I want to go to Managua, Nicaragua. I already bought the one way ticket with Spirit Airline. From there I want to use the bus to Costa Rica and I’ll buy a flight ticket from Costa Rica to Miami. My only question is this: is there is enough proof that I will leave Nicaragua, even I cannot show an onward ticket from Nicaragua, just from Costa Rica to Miami and then my home country? Thanks so much. I read all your comments from 2014 :) A warm hug

    • October 21, 2017
      Reply

      Hi Amalia! From what I’ve heard, you should be okay leaving on a bus ticket. As long as you get to the airport early, you’ll be fine, as it’s the airline who will ask for proof. If they do and don’t accept your bus ticket, you can do what I did in this post and buy a cheap ticket at the last minute.

  74. Alex
    January 8, 2018
    Reply

    In the past 6 months I traveled 3 times in Asia, more precisely the Philipines which they never asked me for return tickets, other story going out from Hong Kong and Thailand. In HK I just asked an airline personnel where is my check in desk for back to Manila. She started to be angry, where is my ticket back home to Romania, I said I am UAE resident so I do not need to go back home, she said ,you need to go home’. I raised my voice because was nothing else to be done and asked for a manager. He apologised and that s all.
    Same thing happened 3 days ago, going out from Thailand back to the Philipines, where is my ticket from Manila to back Home , with the same unjustified anger. I do not get, since I am going out from their country what is their responsibility onwards?! This time I am a Kuwait resident and my ticket was only for Dubai, unusually I prefer to buy last minute tickets on the route Kuwait-Dubai viceversa due the low prices. ,No you do not have ticket to Kuwait, you cannot board’ she said. I left the desk angry and went to another one where everything went smooth without being asked anything. After a great fun and trip in Thailand this ended with a bitter taste. Most of the time is about narrow minded personnel that never travelled and cannot think out of the box.

  75. Filipp
    January 26, 2018
    Reply

    Had the same problem. For onward or return flight you should go to aeroflot.com if you choose pay by cash they give you PNR number for free for 24h. Then just go to Photoshop or keyflight.io for create itinerary.

  76. Samanta Carlos
    February 3, 2018
    Reply

    I used http://www.returnflights.net for one time and twice http://www.keyflight.io. Good for generate return flight.

    • February 25, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks for sharing! I actually got caught up with this for the second time when I was travelling from Australia to Thailand and had to buy a last minute ticket with Air Asia in order to check in.

  77. Carms
    May 31, 2018
    Reply

    oh the ever ‘first world problem’ i would always grab this dumb rule if that means i could travel visa-free or visa on arrival. It sucks to have a weak passport that we have to prove thaf we will not work in the country we will take a vacation. Yet what we do is suck it up collect the proper documents, make sure we have enough amount in our bank account and make sure the average daily balance doesn’t show we just dump a large amount of money single time. Yeah the onward ticket requirement is so dumb you could have a solution in 30 minutes, however a genuine filipino tourist that will be denied of tourist visa will have to wait for months before applying again. Definitely dumb

    • June 4, 2018
      Reply

      I just checked and I didn’t say it was a dumb requirement anywhere in the post. I was simply telling a story from my travels, because that’s the purpose of my travel blog :-)

  78. Katharina
    December 25, 2018
    Reply

    …and here a word about New Zealand, just in case anyone plans similar things: I just learned the hard way that an Onward-Ticket sometimes is not enough, you also have to have proof you’re allowed to enter the country of your Onward-Ticket. Yap, sounds reasonable. But well: I did not have the Visa! I had a flight out of NZ to Australia. In 2 Months. Way ahead and time enough to apply for the Visa later… I thought. But when I stood in front of the check-in 10 minutes before takeoff (the former connecting flight was late…) I did NOT have enough time. They flew without me :((( …and I am still in Bangkok waiting for the Visa to Australia (which seems to take longer than usual because of Christmas…) to finally enter New Zealand, what an Ironie, aaaargh!!

    • January 7, 2019
      Reply

      Oh, bummer! That sucks. Thanks so much for sharing your story on this article so that hopefully others don’t make the same mistake. Have a wonderful time in New Zealand when you finally get there! :-)

  79. Sabina
    March 3, 2019
    Reply

    This happened to me a week ago on a flight to Costa Rica. Sadly, I wasn’t so lucky!
    I only had five minutes before the gate closed so I bought a ticket to Guatemala on my phone… ‘It’s too late, the gate is closed,’ was the response the woman at the desk have me when I showed her the email. So in a rage I accepted my fate, paid $200 for a new flight to Costa Rica for 8 long hours time. The funny and equally, infuriating thing is, on the next flight no one even asked to see my outbound ticket!

  80. DontQuitYourDayJob
    March 8, 2019
    Reply

    Sank. My heart sank. Sink, sank, was sunk. English. If you’re going to write, do it properly.

    • March 8, 2019
      Reply

      Both “sank” and “sunk” are accepted for the past tense of “sink” in American English. The two are listed, in that order, as equal variants in The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, and Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

      Awkward. Maybe you should quit being an asshole to complete strangers on the internet.

  81. Charlie B Ed
    November 16, 2019
    Reply

    I am a Canadian and had a 6 week return ticket from Toronto to Bangkok Thailand..at my departure in Toronto I was denied boarding the flight because. although my return ticket was in 6 weeks. the visa upon arrival in Thailand is only 30 days..I had to immediately purchase a bus ticket online to Cambodia($15)..that worked for the Air Canada flight kiosk and boarded…I had never been asked before from any Asian airline in the past 20 years but I now buy a departure bus ticket ..reduces stress..lol

  82. ian
    December 1, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Lauren!
    I just wanted to clarify that you don’t have to have a return ticket to US, right? I’m going to the Philippines next month and I just bought a one way ticket from Korean Air because I dont know if I want to stay longer than I anticipated. So can I just buy a ticket from Manila to Bangkok just to have something to show them that I wouldnt be ” staying” in the Philippines. Did I get it right? Thank you! I’ll be flying from San Diego Int’l Airport! :)

  83. Phil
    January 21, 2020
    Reply

    what about accommodations . Do you need proof of where you’ll be staying

    • January 22, 2020
      Reply

      Nope. I’ve never heard of anyone being asked and I’ve never been asked either.

  84. Hannah
    February 10, 2020
    Reply

    Hey, still a great story to read even if it happened a while ago! And the comments here are really helpful. I am traveling since June 2019 and have been to 11 countries. So far only when flying from Oz to NZ did they check the onward ticket. But that was quite clear so I had a ticket out. They really checked the flight no and the booking no to make sure it is real. Now I am for the first time not sure, when googling. Flying to Argentina from Auckland tomorrow. Cannot find out if it is really a legal requirement for Argentina to have an onward ticket. Anyone has some experience here? Thanks in advance!

  85. Alissa
    February 25, 2020
    Reply

    Yeah just in January 2020, I was in India, heading to Thailand, and I was asked by Air India for my flight leaving Thailand. And I didn’t have one. I also travel all the time all over the place and I’ve never been asked this before, although I know it’s possible to happen. Well of course it had to happen to me in India where the airport literally has zero free wifi and I have no way to buy a cheap flight or even contact anyone for help and I’m all alone. Fortunately I was able to persuade the airline desk agent to let me on the plane! She did make me wait for like 15 minutes while she talked to her supervisor and other agents. So yeah, always show up early. Thai immigration upon entering the country never asks for onward flight info.

  86. lacey
    August 18, 2020
    Reply

    @Phil – ive had many countries ask about accommodations. Usually its a part of the immigration form and ive had some countries question my answer (thailand & colombia that i can recall). In fact when they questioned my accommodation in colombia, there was another passenger who they didnt want to let pass thru immigration because he didnt have accommodation info…he was a local basketball player & we recognized him & said he was staying with us at the Hilton & they let us all thru. In all the 40+ countries ive been to its only happeneda few times over the years – but its always a possibility. Now, I always screenshot a hilton or another major hotel to show them if they ask…

  87. August 1, 2021
    Reply

    Oh my god, I had the same thing happening when I flew to the States to visit my boyfriend whom I hadn’t seen in almost 5 months. I didn’t know I needed a return ticket and only had 45 minutes left. I’m from Germany but flew from Denmark, so when I tried to purchase a ticket online my credit card wouldn’t go through because I was outside the country, so I was getting really nervous – thinking I’d miss my flight.
    Luckily it went through at some point and I was super super lucky. Once, I arrived in the States I got a mail that my ticket got cancelled because my payment didn’t go through.
    But now I always make sure to purchase a return ticket. Next time, I’ll try OnwardTicket.com. Thank you for the tip, Lauren!
    Being asked for a return ticket when you don’t have one is just too stressful! :D

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